Will Dolphins defense be key to 2022 success?

While the arrival of Tyreek Hill headlined the Miami Dolphins‘ offseason, could the team’s defense be the key to a successful 2022 season?

The Dolphins were one of the most active teams in the NFL this offseason, most notably acquiring Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. Miami also added former New Orleans Saints tackle Terron Armstead, former Dallas Cowboys guard Connor Williams and former Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds to a team with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

With new head coach Mike McDaniel — who was previously the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan — taking the helm, Tagovailoa entering his third NFL season, and the team’s bevy of offensive pickups, all eyes are on Miami’s offense. 

However, the other unit shouldn’t be so quickly forgotten. 

Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who re-signed with the team on a four-year deal this offseason, told Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson that the team’s defense could be “scary” this season. 

“The defense, for sure, can be scary this year because we all know each other,” Ogbah said. “We all know what each other are capable of, our strengths and our weaknesses. We’re all going to help each other and compete with each other. It’s an exciting time for the defense. We’re excited.”

Miami lost seven of its first eight games last season. Across those first eight contests, the Dolphins allowed 29.1 points per game (29th in NFL), 406.9 yards per game (32nd in NFL), 291.1 passing yards per game (31st in NFL) and 115.8 rushing yards per game (19th in NFL). They logged 12 sacks (tied for 28th in NFL), 26 tackles for loss (tied for 26th in NFL) and three interceptions (tied for 25th in NFL). 

Miami also allowed four 30-plus point games in those eight contests. Then the Dolphins flipped the script.

Across their last nine games, where they went 8-1, the Dolphins allowed 15.6 points per game (second in NFL), 275.9 yards per game (third in NFL), 171.3 passing yards per game (fourth in NFL) and 104.6 rushing yards per game (10th in NFL). They logged 36 sacks (tied for first in NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers), 48 tackles for loss (seventh in NFL) and 11 interceptions (tied for third in NFL). Miami allowed 30-plus points in just one of those nine games and 20-plus points in just three of those games.

Ogbah, who logged nine sacks and nine tackles for loss in 2021, sees himself growing as a leader for the Dolphins defense. 

 “Thinking of me as a vet, I’m back there, helping the younger guys and just speak up when I need to and be a captain of the team. You can always get better at everything. The sacks, the batted balls, or just tackling — go back and watch the film and improve on the little things.”

Miami’s defense, overseen by defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, also features cornerback Xavien Howard, linebacker Jerome Baker and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins. Ogbah’s teammate, linebacker Jaelan Phillips, is entering his second NFL season with the former singing the latter’s praises. 

“Jaelan surprised me this offseason,” Ogbah said. “He has the mentality. I’m excited to see his growth this year. I’m excited to see him work, and we got Melvin (Ingram), too. I’m excited for him to be a part of the team.”

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